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House of Commons Hansard #198 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was system.

Topics

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has absolutely no plan to boost aboriginal participation in the economy. When asked about this today, the government House leader said that it would be decades before we saw any jobs.

Today, we learned that, unbelievably, the Conservatives have cut the Aboriginal Job Centre, which links aboriginal job seekers with real jobs. The government cuts the programs that work and has no job strategy for the future.

Why are aboriginal people forced to pay the price for the financial incompetence and misguided priorities of the government?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeMinister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we are focused on creating jobs and economic opportunities for aboriginal Canadians, and we are getting results. For example, over the past month I announced eight more first nations would join the 61 first nations that had chosen freedom from 34 sections of the Indian Act. Just last week, I also announced new regulations that would allow a natural gas project to move forward on the Haisla First Nation in northwest British Columbia, creating well-paying jobs and economic growth.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, Marlene Giersdorf is a single mother from my riding who was recently kicked off EI by the Conservative government. She was told that since she could not drive over 60 kilometres to seek employment, she could go on welfare.

The minister said that she could not contact Marlene, when in fact she has been protesting out in front of the Service Canada office in all kinds of weather every day.

Why are vulnerable Canadians like Marlene being asked to pay the price for the Conservative government's incompetence and front-line cuts? It is a very serious matter.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of EI has always been, and will continue to be, to provide temporary income support to individuals while they are looking for another job.

Let me be clear. People will not lose EI benefits for the sole reason they do not own a car. Nor will they be asked to move. However, personal circumstances are always taken into consideration.

I would like to discuss more of the facts of this case, but without a waiver, which has not been granted by the individual in question, I cannot.

Parliamentary Budget OfficerOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a shocking discrepancy between a minister who wastes taxpayers' money by taking a helicopter without a valid reason and the cruel cuts this government is making to front-line services to the most disadvantaged members of our society.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has revealed that the government is slashing public services instead of cutting back its wasteful spending.

Is that why this government is more determined than ever to destroy the investigative capacity and the autonomy of someone who defends Canadian taxpayers?

Parliamentary Budget OfficerOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

No, Mr. Speaker. As I have already said, the Parliamentary Budget Officer took into account only the reductions included in the “internal services” category, which excludes the substantial savings achieved in the area of administrative services. As I said, and it is important to repeat this, there are other reasons why we support this credible office, and we will continue to do so in the future.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the litany of the Conservatives' broken promises, their position on the Senate holds a special place. The Prime Minister once called this institution a dumping ground for favoured cronies. But he has now appointed more senators than Brian Mulroney.

On Friday, there were five new lucky winners of the Conservative $132,000 a year “cash for life” lottery, who will blindly obey the Prime Minister.

Based on the list of names, it is obvious that cheques payable to the Conservative Party are the ticket to having one's golden years funded by taxpayers.

Why have the Conservatives abandoned their principles? Why are they acting like Liberals?

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton—Sherwood Park Alberta

Conservative

Tim Uppal ConservativeMinister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, we are following through on our long-term commitment to reform the Senate. I am pleased to welcome the appointment of our government's third elected senator who was selected democratically by the people of Alberta.

All of our new appointed senators support our government's plan to have an elected Senate. The NDP and the Liberals are opposed to Senate reform measures. They only have themselves to blame for stalling Senate reform.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' Senate reforms are as useless as the Senate itself. There is only one thing to do: abolish it. It is simple.

The Conservatives' metamorphosis is complete. The Conservatives have become what they detested and spoke out against when they were in opposition. We have lost count of the number of Conservatives who have had their knuckles rapped by the ethics commissioner.

The Minister of Finance is the most recent addition to the list. He tried to use his position to influence a CRTC decision. That is just not right. When a minister does not obey the rules, there must be consequences.

What will the Prime Minister do to discipline his Minister of Finance?

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the member talks about abolishing the Senate. The only thing he has ever wanted to abolish is he gave money to a party that wanted to abolish Canada.

I would like to welcome him back and wish him a happy new year. Of course, it brought a lot of wonder. New Yorkers brought in the new year with Gangnam Style. The world realized that the Mayan apocalypse was a hoax. Let us top off the new year wonder by having the member rise right now and make a new federalist for a new year.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, even when he does have his clown nose on, he still does not really make any sense. I would like to ask--

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. I would ask the hon. member to refrain from making those types of comments in his questions. I do not think it does anything to elevate the tone of debate.

The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly we believe in elevating the tone here, which is why I will refer to the Minister of Finance, who used his cabinet position to try and influence the CRTC on a coveted radio licence. He either did not understand the rules or did not care when he broke them, but he is not alone. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health also intervened with his own letter.

I would like to ask either of those gentlemen a simple question. Did either the minister or the parliamentary secretary receive any financial considerations from the people they wrote to support? It is a simple question. Yes or no?

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Conflict of Interest Act actually permits members of Parliament to write in their capacity as members, and that was, of course, the intention of all the members in question with regard to this.

I think all Canadians expect their members of Parliament to stand up for them and their community's interests. Of course, we also want them to respect those rules, and that is why the members reached out proactively to the Ethics Commissioner on this issue for clarity.

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to school my hon. colleague, but he missed out the important part, that ministers and parliamentary secretaries are not supposed to do that. That is the simple fact. I would also point out that the parliamentary secretary did receive financial contributions from the guy that they wrote the letter on behalf of. These are more broken promises.

This is what the Prime Minister's own rule book says, and I will quote it for him: “Ministers must not intervene, or appear to intervene, with tribunals...”.

They breached the act. They broke the rules. I am asking the Prime Minister, is there any sense of accountability over there for ministers who flagrantly disregard the rules as they are trying to gut the Conflict of Interest Act?

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Ethics Commissioner offered a ruling on this and the minister accepted it.

That being said, I should enlighten the member for Timmins—James Bay. He should actually read the act. Section 64 of the Conflict of Interest Act states, “...nothing in this Act prohibits a member of the Senate or the House of Commons who is a public office holder”--as a minister--“or former public office holder from engaging in those activities that he or she would normally carry out as a member of the Senate or the House of Commons.”

That is what it says. That is what members were relying on. It is important that we now have this clarity added to it, and we appreciate that from the Ethics Commissioner.

The EconomyOral Questions

January 28th, 2013 / 2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canada is not immune to global economic challenges from beyond our borders. That is why in 2013 we will continue our commitment to grow the economy and create jobs by keeping taxes low and through measures like major new investments in research and development. However, while we are focused on helping the economy grow, the NDP wants a $21 billion carbon tax which would cripple our economy and put Canadians out of work.

Could the Minister of Finance please give this House an update on our government's action to grow the economy and create jobs for hard-working Canadians?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in 2013 our Conservative government will remain squarely focused on our priorities which are issues that matter to Canadians: jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. With over 900,000 net new jobs created since July 2009, including nearly 40,000 in December, and over 90% of those are full-time, we are on the right track.

Canada, of course, is not immune to global challenges from beyond our borders. That is why we are working hard now on economic action plan 2013 to build on our government's pro-growth initiatives.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the KPMG report tabled in December highlighted the Conservatives’ mismanagement, just as the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Auditor General and the NDP have done.

The cost of the F-35s has skyrocketed and the Conservatives have no plan B because they chose a sole source. Last week, they sent out a questionnaire to the F-35 competitors to obtain information about the other fighter jets available.

Why was this questionnaire not sent out at the beginning of the process?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, the Auditor General made one recommendation and that was for the Department of National Defence to refine its cost estimates and move to a full life cycle costing for the F-35.

In December, as the member noted, the department did exactly that, but we actually went one step further. We had an independent audit firm, KPMG, validate and verify those numbers. It did exactly that. KPMG not only found that National Defence's full life cycle costing estimates for the F-35 were verified, it also found that DND's original estimates for the F-35 were sound.

We have met the Auditor General's recommendation and he says we are on the right track.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the report the minister refers to actually showed overall costs three times higher and sustainment costs six times higher than anything the Conservative government had admitted to before. But somehow this is a validation of Conservative numbers, and somehow the member for Cambridge thinks that means the Conservatives had it “dead right”.

The Conservatives said they would hit the reset button, but the truth is they hit repeat. This is a repeat of the gross mismanagement and absurd math that has been the hallmark of this procurement all along. When will it end? When will the government put this contract out for open and transparent tender?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated and as the member knows, the Auditor General asked that the Department of National Defence refine its cost estimates. It has done exactly that. He also asked that the Department of National Defence start to apply a full life cycle cost estimate, and it also has done that.

The member should know the KPMG report found no documentation for a full life cycle costing because the Department of National Defence has never applied this framework before. The Auditor General thinks this is a good idea and we agree, and now the Department of National Defence is doing that.

We are happy that we have met the Auditor General's recommendation.

EthicsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Speaking of planning, Mr. Speaker, we now have learned that contrary to what the Prime Minister told Canadians, the Minister of National Defence used a search and rescue helicopter to go to what was, in fact, an event planned very much in advance. But the Prime Minister said the minister was called back from vacation, and an email released to the media called the event “unexpected”.

Why is it that the government has a bottomless supply of denial and cover-up for the minister?

EthicsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I have said in the House many times, I was called back to work early. That is exactly what happened. I was called back from personal time early. That is what happened. As always, government aircraft were used for government business. I note that our government has reduced the use of government assets, government aircraft, by over 80% during our time in government.